Earth 'on brink of mass extinction event'

Jun 20, 2014

Deforestation and climate change drive extinction rates to 1,000 times their normal level

NASA via Getty Images

Earth is on the brink of a "mass extinction event" which could be equivalent in scale to the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a landmark study by an international group of scientists has concluded. 

Researchers warned that deforestation, climate change, and overfishing have driven extinction rates to 1,000 times their normal level, Reuters reports.

Duke University biologist and conversation expert Stuart Pimm says that "time is running out" to avert the threat of mass extinction.

If the crisis is to be avoided, humans need to make large scale changes immediately, Pimm says.

"When you look at the range of unsustainable things we are doing to the planet – changing the atmosphere, global warming, massively depleting fisheries, driving species to extinction – we realise we have a decade or two," Pimm warned. "If we keep on doing what we are doing by the end of the century our planet will really be a pretty horrendous place."

The study compared historical extinction rates with contemporary data collected from around the world.

"We can compare [modern data] to what we know from fossil data and what we know from DNA data… DNA differences between species give us some idea of the time scale over which different species are born and die. When we make those two comparisons we find that species are going extinct a thousand times faster than they should be."

According to Pimm, the last time the planet faced such a significant extinction event was 65 million years ago, when, he says, a third to a half of all animal species on Earth died. "If we continue on our present course, that's how much we will lose," Pimm said.

The report notes that with the right intervention, the crisis could yet be averted. Conservation, education and "targeted preservation efforts" could slow down extinction rates, the report concludes.

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Protozoan life created by earth,X chromosome created man,Y chromosome created god, Y chromosome you're a deluded ape,women control your Frankenstein or no more pudding.

If the researchers think that 'Conservation, education and "targeted preservation efforts" could slow down extinction rates', then unfortunately they have failed to identify the root cause of 'deforestation, climate change, and overfishing' and all the other problems on this planet - poverty, wars, etc. That single root cause is simply that there are far too many humans on the planet, the number is exploding, we are consuming the planet's resources at an ever increasing rate and destroying the web of life in the process. Only if this root cause is addressed head on, and the human population explosion halted, reversed, and the global population brought down to a level that can be indefinitely sustained by living in harmony with all other life forms on this planet, is there any hope of preventing a "mass extinction event". Halting human population growth should be the number one priority of every government, institution, and human on this planet. The recipe is simple, and the decision capable of being made by every one of us: stop breeding so fast! Until the global population is brought down to less than 3 billion, have no children at all, or at most 1 and absolutely no more than 2. Contraception should be free globally, funded by all governments. In addition to this, for every decision being made by anyone on any topic at all, when considering all the pros and cons, if a given option would tend to increase the global population, then that is a huge con that must be taken into account. If an option would tend to decrease the global population then that is a huge pro. Weight up all the pros and cons rationally, and if necessary take additional mitigation steps to ensure that any tendency to increase global population is sensibly countered. Why do this? Because the very existence of all species of life on this planet depends on it, including Homo Sapien!

Yes, a mass extinction event. However, unlike the previous ones, the earth will recover from this one in a geologic blink of an eye. We also happen to be on the cusp of an "un-extinction event" too. Within a 100 years, probably much less, we will have dinosaurs walking the earth with humans. They will be one of the many, many species that we have brought back to life from recovered DNA. Yes, there will be a lot of problems getting the cellular infrastructure in place along with all the symbiotic organisms, but it will happen. Not long after that, we'll have kits available that allow people to snap new lifeforms together like Lego. They will be sold at ToysRus, for our children's children to play with.

Yes, we will lose a lot of existing biodiversity, but we will create more. No, it will not be perfectly balanced in a ecosystem such that it can run automatically. But, it won't have to, because we (or, more likely, our intelligent computers) will be in control. Like human population, there will be a peak, or in this case dip, in the number of species, but it will pass. I'm not saying the choke-point will be nice, but the earth will get though it. Humans are the problem. But, this time, we're the solution too.

exactly... this is something I've talked about a lot myself, but interestingly most people dont' like to think about it.. I've encountered couples with 3 kids or more who often don't say much of anything, even though I'm just being factual and not personal.

We absolutely need to address over population. I personally think that's #1 priority. F$&k the obsessive politics about the economy. We require a world we can live in first off for an economy to exist.

Practical SOLUTIONS are needed at the end of each of these types of depressing reality check news articles.

The solution is very simple - GO VEGAN. It's scientifically proven that the livestock industry causes the worst amount of planetary destruction (reputable sources include UN FAO reports). Stop destroying land, wasting water, and food, to feed and grow livestock animals, and waste more energy transporting, killing, packaging, etc. Livestock consumes more energy than it provides and is not sustainable. Unless you live in an artic area where you must hunt yourself to survive, and as long as you live in an urban area where veganism is a simple choice to make, realize that it is your own selfish decision to consume factory farmed animal products that is killing this planet.

If you have already gone vegan, go further by not owning a car and take public transit and join a local car share, you can buy only organic produce, you can buy as local as possible, you can minimize your consumption habits by not purchasing unnecessary excessive goods such as multitudes of shoes and handbags, jewelery, make up, recreational vehicles, drugs, alcohol, and way too many toys and gadgets! Work on petitions to ban pesticides and toxic waste. Recycle everything meticulously including plastic bags. Buy products with as minimal packaging as possible that can only be recycled or composted, never buy products that require throw away packaging. Don't buy take out food unless you bring your own containers. Everything you throw in the garbage destroys our planet. It's mostly plastic and food, which can either be recycled, not purchased in the first place, or composted.

The worst and most laziest thing we can do, is what we ARE doing....waiting for technology to miraculously solve the problem so we can continue living in our destructive manner, as we are too lazy to make such very simple changes.

Summary: Each of you have the power to solve this as individuals through your purchase and lifestyle decisions every day. Live life more in a more humble and respectful manner, through simplicity and less consumption. Live lighter on the food chain as close to a herbivore as you can. Avoid reproduction, it's unnecessary as there are far too many human beings in existence already and the earth has a finite capacity.

There. Problem Solved.

2 things would cause this to happen in the time frame of 2 - 3 decades. They are nuclear annihillation and a cosmic event. The other "crap" similar to the "climate change" farse could not produce extinction in that time frame.
I do agree that the population explosion would eventually cause extinction but that would take hundreds to thousands of years!
All the other stuff is fear tactics to turn free people into slaves, which is the REAL purpose of the current "climate change" cries. Fact is the earth has been cooling recently and warming since the last ice age. Anyone can see that the climate is cyclical and things depend on the range you are looking at. Humans really can't do a thing(except nuclear annihillation) to effect the climate...period! Remember it's the "climate change" believers who faked the data not the naysayers, who have nothing to hide.

If you were to zoom out from where you are standing, as far away into space as you can possibly imagine. We would then appear to be virus like slowly killing a living planet.

Yes. For a start: how about the "maximum of 2 (or even less) children per family for the whole world and not just the west and China as we all know where the soaring birth rates are and why? Not PC to say more but we all know.
The world has a disease: MANKIND!